What is your writing kryptonite?
The biggest obstacle to my writing time is definitely my Netflix addiction. My queue is enormous, partly because some shows I literally don’t have time to watch during their season, even with DVR, and partly because there are some shows that I just have to keep watching now that I’ve started, no matter how outside my genre (Scandal, Reign, Hawaii 5-0). On the other hand, Netflix’s new ability to download episodes has been amazing, because during the months of the year when I’m drafting a new book, I can limit my Netflix time to my treadmill time. Watching an episode takes about the same amount of time it takes me to speed-walk 5k, so everyone wins!
How do you name your characters?
Minor and even secondary characters can be hard to name when your brain is wrapped up in figuring out what comes next instead. There’s a reason why the first and last names (though never together) of many of the people on my Facebook feed have cameos! I maintain an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of everyone.
How do the books you read influence the books you write?
I think it’s 100 percent true that you can’t be a writer without also being a reader. Though I would never intentionally steal an idea from another author, there have definitely been times where I’ve learned more about the craft of writing by seeing it done well by others, such as character description or pacing. More specific to the speculative fiction genre, I’m always picking up things about how to portray the supernatural by gauging my reactions as a reader.
Most specifically, the title scheme of the Steel Empires series is in homage to my favorite urban fantasy series, and a secondary character in my books is named after another of my favorite authors.
Steel Blood is set in another new location. How much of the world did you have mapped out after the first book, Steel Victory, and how much was brand new to you as you started Steel Blood?
I had the North American and European continents pretty mapped out as I started the Steel Empires series. But as an advocate for more diversity in speculative fiction, I knew that I needed to practice what I preach. Exploring the other major empire in my universe was an easy solution, and expanding the Qin Empire’s colonies to the South American continent allowed me to create a version of one of my favorite cities in the world. Jiang Yi Yue is an altered representation of Rio de Janeiro, which will always hold a special place in my heart since it’s where my husband and I were engaged. While the city itself was not new to me (I first visited in 2010), it was a lot of fun to figure out what changes I needed to make when I started outlining Steel Blood.
Which scene in Steel Blood was the most difficult to write?
Definitely the scene when my main character, Victory, first travels through the city of Jiang Yi Yue after arriving. I don’t want to give away what makes it so special, but it was definitely tough to strike a balance between emotional and trite. Luckily, I was able to draw on my own memories of Rio de Janeiro to help. It’s certainly not necessary (or even possible) to visit every location you write about, but the experience can become invaluable in ways you least expect.
What can you tell us about book 4?
I’m bringing both of my main narrators, Victory and Toria, back together again in this one! They’re going on the adventure of both of their lifetimes, thanks to a magical artifact found in the ruins of the Wasteland. I try a lot of new things in Steel Time, and it’s fun to see the evolving relationship between the two characters as Toria grows up and comes into her own.
About the book:
As her children begin lives of their own, Victory struggles with the loneliness of an empty nest. Just when the city of Limani could not seem smaller, an old friend requests that she come out of retirement for one final mercenary contract—to bodyguard his granddaughter, a princess of the Qin Empire.
For the first time in a century, the Qin and British Empires are reopening diplomatic relations. Alongside the British delegation, Victory and her daywalker Mikelos arrive in the Qin colony city of Jiang Yi Yue. As the Qin weredragons and British werewolves take careful steps toward a lasting peace between their people, a connection between the Qin princess and a British nobleman throw everyone’s plans in disarray.
Meanwhile, a third faction stalks the city under the cover of darkness.
This is not a typical romance. It’s a good thing Victory is not a typical vampire.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/steel-blood-jl-gribble/1126268372
From the publisher: http://rawdogscreaming.com/books/steel-blood/
About the author:
By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.
Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.
She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter), and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).